No wins yet for Gaels

Football falls to 0-4

Another week, another close call. But once again the Queen’s football team failed to pull off a win.

After the game, coaches and players alike mused about a scenario that has become the story of the season. This time, Queen’s lost 17-14 to the Waterloo Warriors on a field goal.

“I’m disappointed because [the loss] is largely due to playing without any poise on our part,” head coach Pat Sheahan said after the game. “One of the results is the penalties.” Queen’s accumulated 16 flags for 135 yards.

Sheahan was annoyed not only by the number of calls, but also by the reasons behind them. As examples, he pointed to undisciplined and avoidable penalties for too many men on the field, roughing the punter and objectionable conduct before the play, which could have been a result of the team’s collective frustration. “We also had a few dropped balls,” he said. “We’re just not good on offence.”

Adding insult to injury, Waterloo put up points after each of those three avoidable penalties.

“Penalties generally came down to either selfishness or stupidity,” Sheahan said. “And right now we are not dodging any bullets.”

The Gaels now find themselves midway through the season, with no explanation for why a team that looks more than capable on paper and in practice cannot produce when it counts.

Queen’s trailed the entire game, and once again the offence sputtered for much of the game, putting up only one point until midway through the fourth quarter when Ali Clarkson came in to replace starting pivot Ryan Sheahan.

Sheahan had been only 10 of 24 passing for 113 yards. Clarkson went 9 of 15 for 152 yards, and threw both Queen’s touchdowns in the final eight minutes. Coach Sheahan defended his decision to leave his starter in by pointing to the absence of mistakes. For the first time this season Queen’s did not throw an interception or record a fumble. The Gaels’ only turnover came on downs late in the game.

Bryan Crawford led the ground game with 67 yards on seven carries. Crawford also starred on special teams, leading in tackles on punt coverage.

Despite some improvements, the Gaels still stalled on offence. Big plays and scoring drives were negated more than once by penalties and dropped balls, not to mention the line allowing Waterloo’s defenders almost limitless access to the Gael quarterbacks. In all, Gael QBs were sacked seven times.

“It took long enough for us to get started,” wide receiver Sean McKinnon said after the game. McKinnon lead the wide outs with four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.

“We have not given the defence much to work with so far,” he said. “We have the team, we just need to start making plays.”

Even so, the defence is not complaining about the offence.

“We played pretty well, but we want to pitch a shutout every time,” said cornerback Nick Corneil. “It is disappointing and we try and fix our mistakes.” Asked about the defence’s knack for surrendering big plays, he pointed to players trying too hard to make plays.

“It’s going to happen, the focus sometimes is a little lacking,” he said.

The defence gave up 328 yards for the game, making it one of the team’s weaker outings. Michael Patone led the defence with eight tackles, while Matt Kirk continued his great season with seven tackles, a sack and a pass knockdown. The defence stepped up their game in the second half as much of Waterloo’s offence came prior to the break.

Regardless of which theory you accept as to why the season has not gone as planned, there is one thing on which everyone agrees: every remaining game has taken on a must-win quality, with 4-4 likely needed for a playoff berth.

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